Performance Evaluation of the Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF) in Moldova and Burundi

NORC designed and is implementing a rigorous performance evaluation of USAID's Displaced Children and Orphans Fund (DCOF) projects in Moldova (Children in Moldova are Cared for in Safe and Secure Families), and Burundi (Family Care First: A Project to Ensure Children in Burundi are Placed in Protective and Permanent Family Care). Findings of these evaluations will be used to inform the development of the child care reform process in those countries.

DCOF's goal is to measurably improve the safety, well-being, and development of highly vulnerable children, particularly those who are living without adequate family care. DCOF gives priority to projects that promise impact beyond direct services, which strengthen local capacity, and offer models and approaches for expansion, adaptation, and/or replication. While DCOF support in some cases is directed toward parents or other adults, the primary beneficiaries for these projects are children younger than 18 years of age.

This project employs innovation in 1) providing technical assistance in the form of hands-on M&E training to implementing partners whose child-centered M&E data the evaluation relies on; and 2) its utilization of mixed methods, relying on Key Informant Interviews, Focus Group Discussions, and a tablet-based survey of community social workers and social work specialists to develop robust findings.

Baseline data in Burundi show: (1) gaps in the case management of reintegrating children; (2) death of parents, poverty, unwanted pregnancies, parental neglect, and the need for children to work are the main reasons children are separated from their biological families; (3) Introducing Village Savings & Loan Associations seems to be a good approach to addressing poverty, one of largest contributors to separation; and (4) There is a strong belief that children are better off living with families rather than in residential care centers, but it is premature to close RCCs since there are limited alternative care options.
Baseline data in Moldova show (1) decrease in the number of children being placed in residential centers has increased the need for various forms of alternative care; (2) children and caregivers face challenges after de-institutionalization; (3) number of children living without parental care is increasing due to alcoholic parents and migration due to lack of jobs; and (4) There aren't enough child care services at the community level to allow parents to work full time (applies also to services for disabled children).